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Lesbian couple files discrimination suit against Hawaii Kai lodging

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Two women sued a Hawaii bed and breakfast lodging today for allegedly refusing to rent them a room because they are a lesbian couple.

Los Angeles residents Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford said that in November 2007 they contacted Aloha Bed & Breakfast by phone about making a reservation. The plaintiffs said business owner Phyllis Young asked if they are lesbians, and Cervelli said they are. Young said she would not rent them a room because she is uncomfortable with lesbians, the plaintiffs said.

Young today declined comment and referred the Star-Advertiser to her lawyer.

Cervelli and Bufford filed a complaint with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission. The commission determined in March 2010 that there was reasonable cause to believe unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation had occurred. Cervelli and Bufford received official notice of their right to sue last month.

Hawaii’s public accommodation law makes it illegal for any commercial business that sells or makes goods, services or accommodations available to the public to deny people access to those goods or services based on their race, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, skin color, religion, ancestry or disability.

Lambda Legal, a firm dedicated to defending the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people with HIV, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the couple.

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